Canadian philospher and media thinker, Marshall McLuhan, once described our world as the great 'global village'. A village which over the years has become more of a hamlet, due to the growing media trends of blogs, wikis and Wi-Fi. McLuhan with his vision of the future might not have thought that the village could be set on fire over the publication and use of images, as we are witnessing with the caricature episode of the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, which has ignited the Arab world in anger and put illustrators on the front line of breaking news.
As the world reacts to the publication of the prophet Mohammed's cartoons, it is clear that there is no more powerful tool than the use and publication of images in mass media, and the power these images have to ignite our tempers, passions and fears. What would Belgian writer and artist Georges Remi, a.k.a Herge, creator of The Adventures of Tin Tin have thought of the way illustration has reduced global diplomacy to rubble?. Tin Tin and his dog Snowy were global adventurers. They traveled to the snake infested jungles of Malay and climbed the Pyramids of Egypt. Essentially they were on a mission. A peace mission. Tin Tin brought the world together through beautiful illustration and text in the minds of children and adults.
Today, we live in a world with a very different type of protagonism, an ego-centric media which despite its important role in promoting a freedom of information, has become the protagonist for igniting controversy and conflict. It's a desperate move of the media to stay omnipresent, to remain in the center limelight, when newspapers all over the world react with a seige mentality from citizen journalists, digital trends and declining readership. The images we have seen on television of the burning embassy in Syria, is a parable of the state of the media today. A burning house. Let's hope the village doesn't set on fire in the meantime. And as for Tin Tin, well, the days of wandering through the Arab lands and deserts are over. Tin Tin could not enter most of the countries today, that have rioted over the illustrations of the prophet Mohammed. He would have been denied entry or blown up by a suicide bomber. The fairytale of illustration is a figment of our common past. Today, illustration has become a powerful weapon of destruction. The fairytale of drawing reduced to nightmare.